HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Active-duty military members and veterans are often separated from family during the holidays, even prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
During the pandemic, these individuals and their family members are even more vulnerable than other people to anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and suicide.
According to state leaders, who spoke on Tuesday about the ongoing problem regarding military members and mental health, there are many resources available throughout the holiday season.
““The holiday season and our family traditions will look different this year, but we do not have to be cut off from our support networks entirely. No matter what you are feeling this year, please know that you do not have to endure it alone,” said Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “nearly 1 in 4 active duty military personnel report some kind of mental health challenge, and the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder can continue throughout a veteran’s life even after retiring from service.” Additionally, spouses and children of military members often struggle with anxiety and depression while separated from their loved ones.
Rick Hamp, special assistant to the deputy adjutant general for Veterans Affairs with the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, says the combination of the holiday season and the ongoing pandemic can make a vulnerable population more stressed.
“Throw in the complications of COVID-19 and it is extremely important that Pennsylvania’s nearly 800,000 veterans are aware that they have access to programs and services that can help them with their physical and emotional needs,” said Hamp.
Many state agencies are collaborating to bring awareness to the resources available to Pennsylvania’s veterans and to help improve, or even save, their lives.
Mental health resources available 24/7 and throughout the holiday season in Pennsylvania:
- Department of Human Services mental health support & referral helpline, Persevere PA: 1-855-284-2494. For TTY, dial 724-631-5600.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255; for Spanish-speakers, call 1-888-628-9454. Help can also be accessed through the Crisis Text Line by texting “PA” to 741-741.
- The United States Departments of Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 or through text at 838255. A chat option is also available online at www.veteranscrisisline.net.
- The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Get Help Now hotline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357); an anonymous chat service is also available at www.ddap.pa.gov.
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